Fr Bregolin amidst the (friendly) lions and dragons in Vietnam
HO CHI MINH CITY — They were the dying moments of the long Tet (New Year) festivities in Vietnam, but there was still enough festivity in the air to ensure that Fr Adrain Bregolin and his secretary Fr Saimy Ezhanikatt (well, that's how he writes it but not how he pronounces it – we'll stick to Saimy!) got a traditional and warm welcome after their long flight from Rome on 28 January.
To be honest, there were no dragon and lion dances at the airport, just a simple welcome ceremony from a group of the Salesian Family including, naturally, the Provincial, Fr Tran Hoa Hung (Joseph) and a number of other Salesians. The FMA Provincial was also there, Cooperators, Past Pupils..
The visitors went to Xuan Hiep, an extensive Salesian complex which includes the Provincial House, responsibility for as many as five parishes (Ha Noi, Duc Le, Duong A, Xuan Hiep, Tam Hai), a parish trade teaching centre, and a large formation community – a theologate with upward of 40 members.
On 29 January Fr Bregolin celebrated Mass in honour of St John Bosco at the Xuan Hiep Parish where a thousand faithful were in attendance. Interestingly enough, the majority of these were young workers from the north and centre of the country. Fr Bregolin used the occasion to speak to them of DOn Bosco's dream when he was just 9 years of age, and the motto which he personally lived by throughout his lifetime – Work and Temperance. He expressed his joy at seeing so many young people at the morning Mass.
The dragon and lion dances did eventually take place, but at Ben Cat, where there is a thriving parish, oratory, a vocational centre and otehr activities for young in need.
By now Fr Bregolin would be in Dalat. Here again we have a parish and oratory and vocational centre (meaning preparation of youngsters for work, trades) but Dalat is also the Postnovitiate. The entire community holds as many young Salesians as many provinces have in total, so fruitful has been the growth in vocations in recent years. Fr Bregolin will meet the Salesian Family in the highlands and celebrate Mass again in honour of St John Bosco.
The visitors will leave Vietnam to return to Rome early on 3 February. In the meantime they will return to HCM for a major gathering of the Salesian Family on the Feast of St John Bosco, then time with the theology students and the novices on Wednesday 1 February.